The Amazon is burning.
The industrial scale of the destruction is made possible by heavy machinery used to clear cut forest land and truck in supplies for logging, mining and beef production. Now NGOs and environmental groups want to slow the devastation by limiting the tools that enable it. AKQA Brazil has developed open-source code that shuts off heavy machinery when the vehicle enters a protected part of the forest.
Each month, the United Nations World Database on Protected Areas updates its maps, which are available to the public. “Code of Conscience” cross-references this information with location data from on-board GPS, which loggers use to keep track of their equipment and pathfind in the forest. When it detects a machine that has crossed into a protected area, it disables it. If a machine is in an area too remote for mobile data, the code uses cached maps instead.
Of course, loggers, ranchers and miners are unlikely to add the code to their own equipment, so the agency and its partner Instituto Raoni are calling on the top 10 global manufacturers to voluntarily add the code to their product lines. Instituto Raoni, the public face for the indigenous Brazilian group the Kayapó, sent statues of endangered animals embedded with chips containing the code to the CEOs of each company. The chips can also be attached to older machinery that doesn’t use GPS technology.
In a video by AKQA Brazil, Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapó makes a heartfelt plea to help safeguard these lands that are so important to the entire world. In addition to Instituto Raoni, the initiative is supported by the conservation non-profit World Land Trust, sustainable development organization the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and Instituto Peabiru: A Civil Organization of Public Interest.
For now, manufacturers will need to volunteer to include the code, but the organizations are lobbying for federal recognition in Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Congo and Australia, which would require its implementation. Since tech-savvy owners could also remove the code from machines they buy, legal repercussions would help deter people looking to circumvent the program.
Volunteers who want to join the open-source project can download the code and contribute their skills at CodeOfConscience.org.